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Edited by 
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Edited by 
Ray Soulard, Jr. 


Pantomine Mixtures of Heaven & Earth: 
A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics 

for outlaws & dancers everywhere 

Burning Man Books is a Special Projects Division imprint of 

Scriptor Press, 32 Newman Rd. #2, 

Maiden, Massachusetts 02148 

This volume was composed 

in the Times New Roman and Aurea fonts 

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Pantomime mixtures of heaven and earth 
Jumbled events that have less than no worth 
Time in the forest to dig under rocks 
Or float in the ocean asleep in a box 

Or sink just below all the churning and froth 

And swim to the light source or fly like a moth 

So toss away stuff you don't need in the end 

But keep what's important and know who's your friend 

Phish, "Theme from the Bottom," 1997 

A Short Guide About 
Psychedelic Drugs for the 
Explorers of Inner Space 

by Donald J. DeGracia 

copyright 1993 


There are a variety of tools available to anyone interested in exploring 
altered states of consciousness. Such tools include meditation, out-of- 
body experiences, brain and biofeedback instruments, occult-type rituals, 
visualization exercises, and psychedelic drugs. Each of these tools 
provides a different doorway into the inner spaces of our subjectivity and 
consciousness. In this article, I would like to provide a brief overview of 
psychedelic drugs as one means among many for achieving altered states 
of consciousness. It is not my intention here to debate whether it is right 
or not to use psychedelic drugs, whatever one's motive, though I will 
discuss the variety of opinions that exist in this regard. My purpose here 
is twofold: to give a broad overview of psychedelic drugs in general; and 
to show how psychedelics can provide, if used reasonably and responsi- 
bly, a valuable and substantial tool for exploring inner spaces. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 5 

History of Psychedelic Substances 

The history of mankind's involvement with psychedelics goes back 
thousands of years. Some modern scholars speculate that the soma of the 
ancient Hindus was a psychedelic substance used for purposes of reli- 
gious ritual and ecstasy. The use of opiates in China and the Far East is 
well documented. The religious uses of psychedelic mushrooms by 
Native Americans is also a well-documented fact, as well as being a 
point of controversy in modern legislation. 

For the most part, the industrial West did not become involved with 
psychedelic drugs until after World War II. It was in 1938 that LSD was 
first produced from rye mold by Albert Hoffman, who was at the time 
looking for antibiotic substances in fungi. Also around this time, mesca- 
line was identified as the active agent in certain psychedelic plants. 
Within a few years after being recognized, these substances began to 
cause severe polarization in opinions about their use and benefit. 

On one hand, there were in the 1950s and early 1960s small groups 
of avant-garde intellectuals who began to associate religious and mysti- 
cal qualities with the effects of these drugs on human perception. Per- 
haps best known in this regard was Aldous Huxley's book The Doors of 
Perception, which highlighted Huxley's personal experiences with 
mescaline. Also in this vein was Alan Watts' The Joyous Cosmology 
which similarly extolled the philosophical and mystical virtues of the 
psychedelic experience. 

On the other hand, during this same period, psychedelic drugs such 
as LSD and mescaline were viewed by many in the medical and psychi- 
atric fields as substances that seemed to simulate psychosis. Initially, the 
term "psychedelic" did not even exist. In the 1950s and 1960s these 
drugs were generally called "psychomimetics," meaning that their 
effects mimicked symptoms displayed by psychotics and paranoids. 
Perhaps the crowning tribute to this view of LSD was the book One 
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, which reflected Kesey's 
experiences as a volunteer in LSD medical experiments. Incidentally, 
Kesey, in the late 1960s went on to be one of the leaders of the West 
coast psychedelic movement with his band of "Merry Pranksters" 
(whose adventures are detailed in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool- 

6 • Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

Aid Acid Test). 

So from the outset, psychedelic drugs have been viewed by Western 
thinkers from opposing points of view: most doctors initially equated the 
drugs' effects with psychosis, while intellectuals equated the drugs' effects 
with profound religious experiences. 

The story of LSD began to peak in the early 1960s with the research 
of Timothy Leary at Harvard University. Initially, Leary, who was a 
Harvard psychologist researching the nature of personality, had only an 
impartial scientific interest in these so-called psychomemetic drugs. He 
soon found out however that their effects were so great as to cause him 
to essentially abandon his roots as an elitist East Coast intellectual and 
become one of the founding fathers of the psychedelic movement in the 
United States. It was Leary 's contention that psychedelic drugs opened 
up to human perception things long lost from Western tradition, things 
that were well understood in older cultures and religions. Timothy Leary 
recognized, like other intellectuals a decade before him, that these drugs 
have the potential to cause profound religious and mystical experiences, 
experiences that could easily be distorted and misconstrued by Western 
reductionist intellectuals as being symptoms of insanity. Leary, like any 
other person made sane by LSD, came to the conclusion that it was the 
modern West that was insane, not some poor individual in a psychiatric 
ward who was experiencing visions and hearing voices. 

I do not think there is a need here to attempt to recount in full the 
story of Timothy Leary. However, we will return to the contention that 
psychedelic drugs cause religious and mystical experiences. At this 
point, it is enough to say that Leary helped start something much bigger 
than himself. The psychedelic movement gained much momentum 
through the late 1960s, climaxing with events like Woodstock. However, 
quick as it came, it was gone. LSD was made illegal, Jimi Hendrix and 
Janis Joplin died, Leary got off his soap-box, and the United States, after 
failing miserably in Vietnam, drifted into the depressing 1970s. 

And here we are, some 30 years later. LSD has not gone away, it is 
simply not talked about anymore. The best of the actual psychedelic 
movement turned into the Grateful Dead, who rode a successful music 
career well into the 1990s. And the basement scientists who in the 1960s 
made and sold LSD turned into the "designer drug" community on the 
West Coast, giving us such wonderful poisons as "Ecstasy" (which 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 7 

causes severe nerve damage if taken enough - so beware!). 

With this bit of history under our belts, I'd like to discuss a little 
about the psychedelic drugs themselves both in terms of what their 
subjective effects are and also what is known about how they react in the 
body. After that, I will then go into more detail about their use as a tool 
for exploring inner space. 

The Effects of Psychedelic Drugs 

So doctors call it insanity, and intellectuals call it enlightenment but, 
really, what is it? What are the effects caused when on psychedelic 

In terms of effects, one of the most important generalizations 
about these drugs' effects was laid out by Leary when he spoke of "set 
and setting." What he meant by this is that what an LSD user actually 
experienced was critically dependent on the user's state of mind (set) and 
where he was at and what company he was in (setting). It is very difficult 
to classify the effects of psychedelics because they are so dependent 
upon set and setting. If the user is depressed and in bad company, the 
experience will be vastly different than if the user is relaxed, happy and 
in good company. 

But, keeping this idea of "set and setting" in the front of our 
minds, we can still make some generalizations about the subjective 
effects of the LSD experience. Some of the most commonly reported 
effects are: 

1 . Visual hallucinations. 

2. Audio hallucinations. 

3. Sensory mixing (hearing sights or seeing sounds). 

4. Weakening of ego boundaries (a weakening or loss of sense of 

5. Enhanced ability to think abstractly. 

6. The uncontrollable urge to laugh. 

7. Enhanced ability to sense the emotions of others. 

8. Inability to maintain focus or concentration for long periods. 

9. Feelings of extreme joy. 

8 • Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

10. Feelings of extreme depression and terror. 

1 1 . A direct apprehension of God. 

Now this list is by no means complete. It only states some of the 
more commonly reported effects. It is also important to state that not all 
of these are experienced by an LSD user. As a matter of fact it is possible 
that none of these effects will be experienced. It is important to be aware 
TREMELY UNPREDICTABLE. The rule of "set and setting" is the best 
guide for anticipating what the effects of a psychedelic experience may 
be. As a matter of fact, I have a close friend who is quite experienced at 
the use of psychedelics, and his rule of thumb is the following: "if you 
have a garden in your mind, then you'll be in it. If you have a garbage 
can in your mind, then you'll be in it." This is very useful advice. 

Explanations of Psychedelic Effects 

At this point I would like to begin to discuss what it is that these drugs 
are doing in the body. There is no question that psychedelics cause 
profound effects. The really key question is: where do these effects come 

To answer this question I would like to lay out two very different 
theories of what it is the psychedelics are doing to the human being. We 
will see that these theories are complimentary in that they both shed light 
on mode of the action of psychedelic drugs. However, these two theories 
I am about to discuss are products of vastly different world-views that 
most people consider to be contradictory. In this article, I take the 
attitude that we can learn from both. The two views of how psychedelics 
affect humans that I will now discuss are the scientific view and the 
occult view. Both science and occultism offer reasonable and useful 
views about the nature of the psychedelic experience. However, what I 
intend to illustrate here is that the occult view is simply better. Let us 
begin with the scientific view. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 9 

Scientific Explanations of Psychedelic Effects 

Science tells us that our consciousness is somehow the product of our 
brain; that our psychology is the software, and the brain is the hardware. 
At first glance, the LSD experience seems to completely support this 
view for we have eaten a chemical that severely alters the hardware, and 
thus, expectedly, alters the software (i.e. our thoughts and perceptions). 
For the moment, let us just accept this contention and work with it. 

Modern scientific investigations into the structure of the brain shows 
that it is made of lots of different layers of tissues such as the cortex, 
cerebellum and others. These tissues in turn are, in total, made of some 
one trillion cells. These cells are called neurons. Neurons look a lot like 
tree branches, branching off in myriad directions touching many, many 
other neurons. And the neurons align themselves like fibers, making 
thick tracts of cable throughout the brain. Neurons conduct electricity 
along themselves; this electricity is created by salts like sodium and 
potassium, chloride and calcium. These salts act in the cells, much like 
the salts in a battery work to make electricity. 

Neurons do not touch each other directly; there is a small space 
between adjacent neurons called a synapse. Neurons conduct electricity 
from one to the next by electrical impulse traveling the length of the first 
or sending neuron until it gets to the synapse. At this point, the electricity 
at the synapse causes the first neuron to release chemicals, called neu- 
rotransmitters, into the synapse. These neurotransmitters float across the 
synapse where they encounter the second or receiving neuron. Depend- 
ing on the nature of the second neuron, once the neurotransmitters 
contact it, it will either continue the impulse (and this then would be an 
excitatory neuron), or it will not conduct the impulse (this is an inhibi- 
tory neuron). It is important to appreciate that there are two types of 
neurons in the brain, excitatory and inhibitory. This is important for 
understanding how science explains the mode of action of psychedelic 

As it turns out, the chemical structure of the psychedelic looks very 
similar to the chemical structure of the neurotransmitters in the brain. 
Scientists therefore conclude (and quite reasonably) that what happens 
when you take a psychedelic drug is that the drug gets into the brain and 

10 • Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

interferes with the normal operation of the neurotransmitters. The 
psychedelic drug fools the neurons into thinking it is a neurotransmitter 
and it then disrupts the normal flow of business in the neurons. Now the 
specific details of how this happens do not exist. Yet, because the 
psychedelics expand the activity in one's consciousness, scientists 
believe that whatever psychedelics are doing in the brain, ultimately they 
are disrupting inhibitory synapses. The idea here is that inhibitory 
synapses serve a filtering function in the brain and that unwanted or 
unnecessary stimuli are inhibited. If psychedelics disrupt this filtering 
function, then one would expect an increase in the "noise" level of the 
brain leading to such activities as hallucinations or even delusions. Thus, 
the effects of psychedelics are generally seen by scientists to be "noise" 
(similar to static on a radio, for example). 

There is no question a certain degree of merit to this hypothesis. 
However, one could ask as well: are there perhaps latent functions in the 
brain that are turned on by psychedelics? This point of view has not been 
well-addressed by scientific research: how can you look at something if 
you don't know it exists? If there are functions turned on by psychedelic 
drugs in the brain that do not normally operate in our usual states of 
consciousness, then scientists have nothing to compare these states to, 
and thus are affected by a blind spot. Still, though this question of 
turning on latent functions is not easily addressed in terms of scientific 
thinking, we shall see below that occult views provide us a basis to 
reasonably address this question. 

In spite of any hypothesis scientists may provide as to the operation 
of psychedelics in the nervous system, we must put this discussion in its 
proper perspective. Whatever scientists may profess to know about the 
activity of psychedelic drugs is colored strongly by the fact that the 
current scientific understanding of how the brain and nerve cells work is 
highly incomplete. 

So on one hand, scientists like to believe that the brain creates 
consciousness, but on the other hand, scientist have only a partial and 
incomplete understanding of how the brain works. This seems like 
putting the cart before the horse to me. It is possible that science will 
come to understand in very full detail how the operation of the brain 
leads to memory formation and other psychological phenomena. The 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 11 

bottom line is that science's contention that the brain creates conscious- 
ness is more belief and dogma than it is a provable fact. 

It's important to appreciate this situation, because what it does is 
leave the doorway open for alternative explanations. And in this quest 
for alternative explanations, we do not have to take an attitude that 
science is wrong and the alternatives are right, or vice versa. We can take 
a more balanced and reasonable attitude and realize that different expla- 
nations will give us a broader scope on the issue and therefore, in the 
end, make our understanding fuller than if we defensively or dogmati- 
cally cling to only one view of things. 

So having said this, let us turn to an alternative explanation of LSD's 
effects (and any other psychedelic for that matter). 

Occult Explanations of Psychedelic Effects 

Occultists have a much different world-view from scientists, but as a 
world-view it is no less complex. Occultism teaches that our conscious- 
ness is independent from our body. According to occultists, our body 
(and therefore our brain as well) is but a temporary vehicle that houses 
our consciousness in the span of our life in the physical world. Occult- 
ism also teaches that there are worlds other than the physical and these 
worlds are called "planes." Only four of these planes are significant to 
humans. These are the physical, astral, mental and buddhic planes. 
According to occultists we also have vehicles or bodies for each of these 
planes. Thus each of us has an astral body and mental body and a 
buddhic body. 

It is by this theory that occultism explains the plain facts of our lives. 
Occultism teaches that our emotions are our astral body, that our mind is 
our mental body, and that our soul or conscience is our buddhic body. 
Thus, right from the start, occultism does not bother with the idea that 
our physical body creates our mind, emotions or soul (and this idea of 
"soul," incidentally, is something science likes to deny). Instead, occult- 
ism claims that all of these vehicles overlap and interact and create our 
life and experience as we know and understand it. 

Occult theories detail very carefully the manner in which all the 

12 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

vehicles interact. The interaction of the vehicles is explained by the 
theory of the chakras. The chakras are seven (or a couple more depend- 
ing on the scope of the occult theory) vortex-like depressions in the 
astral, mental and buddhic bodies that serve as energy channels between 
the bodies. The chakras are energy processing centers that hold the 
bodies together and unify mind, body, emotion and soul into the one 
framework of our direct experience. As it turns out, the location of the 
chakras in our other bodies, line up in a line with the spine of our physi- 
cal body and they are located wherever there is a nerve plexus in our 
physical body. 

Furthermore, occultism teaches that there is an intimate feedback 
and interplay between all of the bodies, and this feedback is effected 
through the chakras. Our physical body also has chakras, but these are 
invisible to our physical senses of sight, sound, taste, touch and hearing. 
Our physical chakras are made of a type of radiation that is invisible to 
our sense (this radiation is called "etheric matter" by occultists), but they 
exist nonetheless, and serve as the bridge between our nervous system 
and our astral, mental and buddhic bodies. 

Chakra theory is very complex. Each chakra serves a variety of 
specific functions. These I will only briefly outline here to the extent that 
it is relevant to our discussion of psychedelic drugs. Here is a list of the 
chakras by their common name (the Hindu names can be found in any 
worthwhile yoga book). These will be listed from the bottom of the spine 
up to the top of the spine, along with the corresponding body locations: 

1 . Root chakra - between the legs 

2. Navel chakra - at the waste 

3 . Spleen chakra - over the navel 

4. Heart chakra - over the heart 

5. Throat chakra - over the throat 

6. Third eye chakra - over the forehead 

7. Crown chakra - top of head 

So as not to keep the reader in suspense, the reason I am going into 
some detail about chakra theory is that we shall see that it explains much 
more clearly than science does what happens when under the influence 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 13 

of psychedelic drugs. To go into this we need some understanding of the 
functions of the chakras. These are listed briefly as: 

1 . Root - sex energy, libido 

2. Navel - excretion (kidneys, liver), sensation in general 

3. Spleen - digestion, energy input, ability to dream 

4. Heart - circulation, empathy 

5. Throat - communication, speech, hearing, clairaudience 

6. Third-eye - sight, cognition, clairvoyance 

7. Crown - brain, thought, spirituality 

Notable here is that each chakra has not only physical functions or 
organs associated with it, but also subjective and psychological functions. 
It is by means of this theory that occultism explains the relationship 
between mind and body and soul. All of these factors are interconnected 
through the operation of the chakras. Even though it may seem that we 
are getting unnecessarily complex here, we are actually building a very 
powerful theoretical framework of how a human is built and operates. 
Already at this point we have related biological and psychological func- 
tions in one coherent theory. Science, with its reductionist mentality can 
offer us no equivalent counterpart. Chakra theory, and occultism in 
general, does indeed offer this understanding. Furthermore, occultism 
does not contradict or clash with science in any way; instead, it offers us 
an expanded viewpoint that integrates the facts known to modem science 
into a larger view of our total experience as human beings 

So with this minimal picture of occult theory in mind, let us return to 
the issue of psychedelic drugs. Using occult theory, what we can say is 
that psychedelic drugs severely affect the behavior of the chakras. All of 
the subjective effects listed earlier in this article can be accounted for as 
effects of hyperactivity in definite chakras: 

1. Visual hallucinations are in actuality the stimulation of the 
third eye chakra, leading to some degree of clairvoyance, which 
is the perception of the adjacent planes. 

2. Audio hallucinations are the stimulating of the throat 
chakra to hyperactivity. In this case, one begins to hear on, for 
example, the astral plane. 

14 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

3. The mixing of sensory modalities is an effect of the crown 
chakra, which is the site of integration, not only of sensory 
perception, but astral perception (emotions), and mental percep- 
tion (thinking). Thus, at the point of integration (crown chakra) 
all separate modalities are blended into a unified consciousness. 
This effect is enhanced under psychedelics. And the psychedelic 
effect is even more pronounced because of the fact that we 
rarely recognize this integration to begin with. It is there all 
along but we don't realize it, and when the drug stimulates the 
crown chakra and we are forced to look at this integration of the 
modalities of our consciousness, it seems surprising to us. 

4. The weakening of ego boundaries is again an effect of 
increasing the activity of the crown chakra. In this case, it is not 
so much that the ego is loosened but that the ego is seen in its 
proper perspective in the totality of our organization as a human 
being. Again, this is an effect of the integration function of the 
crown chakra. The ego (which effectively is our personal 
identity) is but one facet of our being. In our daily lives, how- 
ever, we tend to overemphasize our ego at the expense of other 
facets of our being. Again, the psychedelic stimulation of the 
crown chakra only serves to put things in a more realistic 

5. Enhanced ability to think abstractly. What is happening 
here is that the psychedelic triggers off such an enormous in- 
crease in libido energy (which will be discussed below) that our 
mind is capable of perceiving a much vaster range of the mental 
plane. This effectively translates into broader, more sweeping 
and more abstract thoughts. 

6. The uncontrollable urge to laugh is a classic phenomenon 
indicating enhanced chakra activity. Laughter is a release of 
tension. Increasing the activity of chakras is also a release of 
tension. The increased chakra motion effectively burns up the 
extra energy. An experienced LSD user is unlikely to have this 
laughter effect, only a novice who is not used to the sensations of 
enhanced chakras would express these sensations by uncontrol- 
lable laughter. This is very similar to how people laugh when 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 15 

they are nervous or cry when they are very happy. However, on 
the psychedelic, the effect is greatly increased. 

7. The enhanced empathic ability is mainly a function of the 
hyperstimulation of the heart chakra. Our whole ability to be 
sensitive to the emotions displayed by others resides in the heart 
chakra. The psychedelic stimulates the heart chakra, so it is no 
surprise that a typical psychedelic user is more sensitive to the 
feelings and attitudes of others. 

8. Inability to maintain focus or concentration for long 
periods. Here we run into a situation that is probably more a 
function of the brain than of the chakra system. It should be 
pointed out that experienced psychedelic users will report that 
this effect only lasts for a small percentage of the time that the 
drug effects are occurring. Probably what we are seeing here is 
the maximum effect of the actual chemical in the physical body 
in which there is a maximum disruption of the normal function of 
the neurons in the brain. Again, this effect is short lived (usually 
about 30-60 minutes). And often it seems that this effect is a 
prelude to the effect of thinking abstractly. It appears that we are 
dealing with distinct phases of the drug experience here and with 
effect number 5, again, with number 8 here preceding number 5. 

9. Feelings of extreme joy. This effect is literally the opposite 
of effect 10: feelings of extreme terror and/or depression. What 
we have here is an amplification of one's normal state of mind by 
the enhanced libido of the drug. Whatever the user is feeling 
becomes greatly magnified, so reports of extreme emotional 
states are common. Also, since emotion is generally a function of 
the concerted (simultaneous) operation of the four lower chakras, 
we find here evidence that the psychedelic is affecting not only 
the higher chakras (throat, third-eye and crown) but the lower 
ones as well. 

10. Finally, the direct apprehension of God. It is in studying 
this psychedelic effect that we can begin to tie together many 
elements of this article. We have seen that intellectuals such as 
Huxley, Watts, and Leary identified the LSD experience with 
religious experience. Furthermore, all yoga texts worth reading 
explain that the function of yoga is ultimately to transfer all of the 

16 • Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

libido energy to the crown chakra at which point the yogi achieves 
nirvana, or mystical insight, which, practically speaking, is the total, 
integrative psychological event. One directly perceives the unity of the 
cosmos, and one's place in this unity. For all practical purposes, this is 
indeed seeing God. That Western intellectuals have perceived this in a 
religious context, and Western physicians have perceived this in the 
context of psychosis, really tells us something about Western intellectu- 
als and Western doctors. 

At this point, I would like to attempt to generalize this picture of the 
action of psychedelic drugs on the chakras system. One important facet 
of occult teaching I have not explicitly stated yet, though I have been 
using it, is the idea of "kundalini." Yogis and occultists teach that housed 
in the root chakra is a fundamental energy called kundalini. This energy 
is depicted as a coiled snake and it is the goal of the yogi and occultist to, 
slowly and in a controlled manner, release this energy. The purpose for 
releasing this energy is to bring it progressively through the chakras, 
which in turn confers the particular psychic abilities associated with that 
chakra. This process is known as "awakening" or "vivifying" a chakra. 
This energy is brought up the spine (or the etheric counterpart thereof) 
and its final destination is the crown chakra, which, upon successfully 
reaching, confers enlightenment, which is the true goal of both yoga and 
occultism, as well as mysticism. Bringing the kundalini to the crown 
chakra is exactly the method by which enlightenment is conferred. 

Above I used the word "libido," a word derived from Freud that 
loosely translates as "sex energy." Libido is kundalini. However, the idea 
of kundalini is much broader and clearer than Freud's concept of libido, 
so I will now use the word kundalini from here on out. 

So with this background, let us attempt to give a general explanation, 
in occult terms, of the effect of psychedelic drugs on a human being. 

What seems to be happening during the psychedelic experience is 
that the kundalini is spontaneously activated by the drug. How this 
occurs is unknown. What probably happens is that the psychedelic 
somehow affects the gland system of the body (which is called the 
endocrine system and includes the adrenal glands, thyroid, parathyroid, 
pituitary and pineal glands, among others), not simply the brain. I make 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 17 

this statement about the endocrine system because occultists often point 
out the crucial role played by the pineal and pituitary glands in medita- 
tive practices. In a fashion that is very ill-defined both scientifically and 
occultly, these glands play an intimate role in relation to the kundalini. 
Unfortunately, not much more than this can be said. 

Somehow, the drug confers changes in the endocrine system of the 
body that result in the stimulation of the kundalini. The kundalini be- 
comes active in an uncontrolled fashion, which is literally the opposite of 
yoga in which kundalini is slowly and painstakingly controlled over 
years of meditative practices. The onset of alterations in the LSD user's 
perception corresponds with the onset of the kundalini release. As this 
energy is released in a spontaneous and uncontrolled fashion, any 
number of psychological and subjective events are possible that would 
be completely dependent on the circumstances under which the drug was 
taken. This then is the explanation of Timothy Leary's notion of "set and 

Psychedelic Drugs and Inner Exploration 

At this point we have completed our overview of psychedelic 
substances. We've briefly mentioned the history, discussed the subjective 
effects of these drugs, and gone into some detail of scientific and occult 
explanations of why these drugs do what they do to human beings. In 
this last section, I would like to try to tie all of this together in terms of 
how these drugs provide a tool for the individual interested in exploring 
his or her own subjectivity, the inner spaces of one's being. 

Going off on all the occult chakra theory as I did above has one 
overridingly important lesson to it, and that is the realization that 
psychedelics do in one hour what yogis spend their lives trying to 
accomplish. The release of the kundalini energy is no small or trivial 
matter. My friend that I mentioned earlier likes to compare LSD and 
related substances to nuclear bombs. Both are immediate, almost 
incomprehensively powerful, and can kill a lot more readily than they 
can heal. LSD is something to be respected, if not revered, because it is 

18 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

indeed a doorway to many divine things. I would not discourage one 
from taking the drug. However, I do not advocate the careless use of the 
drug either. If one is interested in using it as a tool for experiencing 
realities that current dogma tells us do not exist, well, I recommend that 
the explorer exercise respect for this particular tool. And then, as an 
explorer, you can see that current dogma is simply wrong. 

Another purpose for going off on both scientific and occult theory is 
to show that there is way more going on here than meets the eye. In this 
regard, I have a favorite quote by Leadbeater that says it all: "We must 
beware of falling into the fatally common error of supposing that what 
we see is all there is to see." LSD, and psychedelic drugs in general, can 
be used as a tool to give concrete substance to Leadbeater's statement. 
The watchful and attentive psychedelic user will learn many things about 
the hidden worlds that we cannot perceive with our physical senses, 
ranging from things as unbelievable as seeing the cells inside your brain, 
to seeing atoms and molecules, to readily perceiving abstractions so 
glorious as to defy your very being, all the way to — dare I say it — seeing 
God first hand, and allowing God to talk through your mouth. On this 
note, I'd like to end this article with a quote by Aleister Crowley, (taken 
from The Book Of Wisdom Or Folly) that absolutely captures the spirit of 
this article: 

"Concerning the Use of Chymical Agents, and be mindful that thou 
abuse them not, learn that the Sacrament itself relateth to Spirit, and the 
Four Elements balanced thereunder, in its Perfection." 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 19 

Confession of an 
Amerikan LSD Eater 

by Dale R. Gowin 

copyright 1991 

This essay was written in 1991 while the author was incarcerated at Elmira 
Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in New York State. 

So here I am, locked in a cage in an ancient, crumbling dungeon, 
doomed to spend a decade of my life marching through these murky 
corridors under the watchful gaze of club-wielding cops with bloated 
guts and beady, piggish pink eyes — cops that will open my mail, control 
the clothes I wear and the food I eat, examine my urine for outlaw 
molecules, and search my rectal cavity to make sure I'm not hiding any 
forbidden objects. For companions in these corridors I have a motley 
crew of social misfits, some like Arlo Guthrie used to say "mother- 
stabbers and father-rapers," some thieves, bank robbers, muggers and 
con men, some revolutionary warriors and enemies of the State, and an 
increasing number like myself who are condemned to this fate because 
of a fondness for forbidden visionary vegetables. 

Yes, I am one of the most despised and despicable of media mon- 
sters, that blight of corruption against morality and decency and 

20 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

law'n'order — one who chooses to partake of consciousness-altering 
flowering herbs and alchemical essences — a drug user! Ever since my 
discovery in the late 1960s of the miraculous and magical mind-mani- 
festing powers of psychedelics, I have continued to occasionally use and 
enjoy these heretical vegetable products. Further, I have spoken out 
honestly, in print and from the public stage, about my belief that these 
products should be legal so that those of us who choose to use them can 
do so without fear. It has been my opinion that the lungs, stomach, 
bloodstreams and brains of individual citizens are beyond the legitimate 
limits of government authority — and that in a free society, people should 
be free to grow, prepare, use and exchange whatever vegetable products 
they like, without interference from the State. 


Over the last couple of decades, I have continued to publicly oppose 
prohibition laws and other forms of social and political authoritarianism. 
This open activism caused me to come under the surveillance of the 
"authorities," and it came to pass that I was busted in a sting operation in 
the city of Syracuse, New York, late in the evening of October 17, 1990. 

A "friend" who I had known and trusted for many years had decided 
to earn some extra income for himself (or, perhaps, exculpate himself 
from a legal embarrassment of his own) as a paid informant to the 
Thought Police. He arranged to introduce me to an undercover police 
agent, who expressed an interest in LSD and asked me if I could find 
him some. 

This wolf in sheep's clothing (a skillful agent who specializes in 
entrapping drug heretics, a former New York State Police officer by the 
name of Christopher A. Wiegand) wove a web of lies and deceit around 
me to establish his credibility. He wore his hair long and shaggy; he 
dressed in old, ragged jeans and motorcycle boots; he affected 
countercultural mannerisms of speech and demeanor; he smoked pot 
with me at my house on a number of occasions. I located some LSD for 
him as he requested, and he came to my house to pick it up. 

At first he bought a few hits, and then he returned for increasingly 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 21 

larger quantities. On the final occasion, he had worked his way up to a 
bundle often sheets (each sheet containing 100 doses of LSD in little 
squares of blotter paper). On this visit, he brought a team of heavily 
armed police thugs with him. They were waiting at my front door when I 
opened it to let him out. 

Suddenly I found myself looking down the barrels of six 45 -caliber 
pistols. I was thrown to the ground, pummeled, kicked, handcuffed, and 
hauled back into my home for a few hours of interrogation. While two of 
the thugs "questioned" me (trying to convince me to turn informant so 
that I could "get off easy"), the rest of the team proceeded to "search" 
my apartment. They had a great time and did a very thorough job. They 
ripped up and smashed everything in sight — pulling books down from 
the shelves of my private library and heaping them on the floor; demol- 
ishing the shelves themselves; tearing paintings from the walls and 
trampling them; hurling computers and stereo equipment across the 
room. Records and tapes and files of documents were strewn about like 
rubble. They confiscated a selection of books and documents to be used 
as evidence against me. In the course of the search, they found some 
more sheets of LSD, a small amount of marijuana, a single dried peyote 
button, and a set of scales. 

I found myself facing six felony charges and a handful of misde- 
meanors (including multiple counts of sales, possession with intent to 
sell, and possession of a controlled substance). My court-appointed 
attorney told me that, since I had a previous drug-related indiscretion on 
my record, I faced a probable 25-to-life sentence, unless I was willing to 
switch sides and help prosecute my comrades. I spoke of challenging the 
charges on constitutional grounds, but I was told that this would virtually 
guarantee a maximum sentence. Other lawyers I sought advice from 
concurred, citing the prevailing political climate. (Shortly after I was 
busted, an undercover cop was killed during a failed sting operation — 
unfortunately not the cop that nailed me — and the media was filled with 
anti-drug hysteria that approached a lynch-mob mentality. The judge 
assigned to my case was evidently persuaded that my offenses exceeded 
in seriousness such paltry crimes as mere murder, rape or grand larceny.) 

After I had cooled my heels in the county jail for three months (in 
lieu of $50,000 bail), the D.A. evidently realized that I wasn't going to 
"cooperate" with the Unholy Inquisition, and I was offered a "plea 

22 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

bargain" in which the original charges against me were dropped and a 
charge of "conspiracy" was substituted — a handy, all-purpose charge 
which can have any meaning they choose to give it. At first, this deal 
came with a 12-to-life sentence (at least 12 years in prison followed by a 
lifetime on parole), but eventually, as I continued to hold out and de- 
mand a jury trial, they dropped it down to 6-to-12, and I was told that 
this was the final offer — I could take it or go with a jury trial and surely 
get the maximum 25-to-life sentence. So, swallowing my misgivings, I 
took the deal. 

My experience was not an uncommon one. Recent statistics indicate 
that there are more than 1.5 million Americans currently incarcerated in 
jails and prisons [over 2 million as of Feb. 2000 ], and that something 
close to 50% of us are locked up for prohibition violations. 

Behind the Scenes in the "War on Drugs" 

So, here I am: a prisoner-of-war in the "war on drugs." 

A look beneath the veneer of propaganda shows that this "drug war" 
is a deceptive and insidious attack on human freedom, waged by an 
ultra-rich class of corporate profiteers who have successfully subverted 
the American political system and are attempting to establish a strangle- 
hold on the entire world — a "new world order" that will ensure their 
global economic and political dominance. The drug prohibition laws are 
one element in their conspiracy, one cog in their machine of global 

The "drug war" is the epitome of hypocrisy. The politicians who 
wage this war against users of non-approved drugs are nearly all ad- 
dicted to alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, which are among the deadliest 
drugs ever used by humans. 

Tobacco alone causes over 400,000 deaths of Americans annually. 

Alcohol is the direct cause of over 125,000 U.S. deaths each year, 
and it is responsible for many times that number of deaths because of its 
correlation with traffic accidents, homicides and domestic violence. 

Even caffeine, which is loaded into children's candies and soft 
drinks, causes over a thousand deaths in the USA each year. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 23 

In comparison, all illegal drugs, including the most harmful, cause 
less than 5,000 U.S. deaths annually. And the #1 target of the "drug war," 
marijuana, has never caused a single death in all of history anywhere in 
the world, despite the fact that it has been more widely used, and more 
thoroughly studied, than any other mind-altering vegetable product. 

This fact was admitted by Francis L. Young, a D.E.A. administrative 
law judge, in an official ruling in 1988. He confirmed that there are no 
known deaths attributable to marijuana use, and stated that marijuana is 
"one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man," and 
added, "In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods 
we commonly consume." 

Tobacco, besides being more deadly to human health than any other 
legal or illegal recreational drug, is also one of the most addictive. It is 
often easier to kick a heroin habit than to stop smoking tobacco. Yet, the 
U.S. mass media is littered with seductive ads urging consumers to get 
hooked. These ads are prominently displayed on giant billboards in 
every major American city, on highways and at concerts and sporting 
events. They use subliminal techniques to manipulate the minds of the 
people. And the U.S. government subsidizes tobacco growers at taxpay- 
ers' expense. 

Secret Government Drug Trafficking 

But there is another level of "drug war" hypocrisy that is even more 

While the U.S. government has been prosecuting users of illegal 
drugs, it has been engaging in secret trafficking in heroin and cocaine 
with the aid of the CIA, to finance "covert" military operations. 

Many veterans returning from Vietnam in the early 1970s described 
how they had witnessed, or had been forced to participate in, the smug- 
gling of tons of heroin into the U.S. from the Southeast Asian "golden 
triangle" during Nixon's "secret" incursions into Laos and Cambodia. 
The heroin was loaded into sealed coffins supposedly containing the 
dismembered corpses of American soldiers. 

In the 1980s, the same type of government-sponsored drug traffick- 

24 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

ing occurred with cocaine (and there are indications it continues today). 
The CIA arranged the importation of thousands of tons of cocaine into 
the U.S. from Central and South America and the Middle East, to 
provide covert funding for the Nicaraguan "contra" war. Details of these 
dealings leaked out during the Iran-Contra congressional hearings, and 
the story was widely reported by the newspapers of the world — except in 
the U.S., where it was totally suppressed. The government of Costa Rica 
identified Oliver North, John Poindexter, and Richard Secord as con- 
spirators in a cocaine trafficking plot, along with CIA operative John 
Hull, whose Costa Rican ranch was used as a transshipment point for 
drugs and arms. 

This covert government involvement in drug trafficking was de- 
signed to serve a dual political purpose. On the international level, it 
provides financial support for covert military operations in the Third 
World, in furtherance of the strategy of "low intensity warfare" in 
support of U.S. -based multinational corporations. 

Domestically, the proliferation of debilitating drugs is used to 
destabilize the oppressed populations of the inner cities, to counteract 
potentially revolutionary tendencies, and to provide a pretext for the 
militarization of domestic law enforcement and the erosion of tradition- 
ally-protected civil liberties, bringing us a step closer to the monolithic 
police state that the corporate oligarchs have planned for America and 
the "new world order." 

Heroin flooded the streets of U.S. cities during the late 1960s and 
early 1970s. It rapidly plummeted in price, giving Nixon the diversion he 
needed to veil his major crackdown on dissidents and revolutionaries 
(including the FBI's "ColntelPro" purges and the police assassination 
attacks on the Black Panther Party, and the frame-up of Timothy Leary 
on pot charges as he was putting together his campaign for governor of 
California). Part of this wave of repression was the draconian anti-drug 
law that was sponsored in New York State by governor Nelson 
Rockefeller, the Butcher of Attica. 

Under the Carter administration, there was a brief, partial thaw in the 
anti-drug rhetoric, during which some marijuana "decriminalization" 
bills were being passed by state legislatures, and some research was 
conducted on marijuana's many medicinal properties. But with Reagan's 
"October Surprise" takeover of the federal government, this liberaliza- 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 25 

tion abruptly ended. Positive findings about marijuana's value in medi- 
cine were suppressed. Cocaine flooded U.S. cities in unprecedented 
abundance, dropping rapidly in price. George Bush, former CIA director 
under president Ford and Reagan's top anti-drug enforcer, toured the 
country making speeches about the new menace of "crack" just as it 
was being introduced into America's underground markets, as if he were 
a soap salesman drumming up interest in a new brand of detergent. 

The Anti-Cannibis Conspiracy 

Under Nixon/Ford and Reagan/Bush, the major prohibition enforcement 
target was the least harmful of all recreational drugs: marijuana. Why 
this irrational national vendetta against this harmless, healing herb? 

The carefully suppressed truth is that the marijuana plant — Cannabis 
sativa or "Indian hemp" — was once a major industrial resource that 
threatened the monopoly profits of the petrochemical industry and other 
interrelated corporate interests. Paper, textiles, plastics, paints and 
varnishes, medicines and thousands of other products were once made 
from hemp. It was also a source of clean burning fuels that are viable 
alternatives to gasoline and coal. 

Technical advances in hemp processing in the 1930s caused a 
resurgence in the hemp industry that could have triggered a revolution- 
ary shift in the American economy, putting the giant petrochemical- 
based monopoly corporations out of business and transferring their 
profits to a "grass-roots" network of independent, agriculturally-based 

Hemp products were in the public domain and could not be con- 
trolled by exclusive patents; thus they eluded the control of monopoly- 
based megabusiness conglomerates. 

The incestuously interlocked petroleum, chemical, paper, banking 
and pharmaceutical corporations (DuPont, Hearst, Mellon, GM, 
Rockefeller, etc.) joined forces in a blatant conspiracy to destroy the 
hemp industry, which they couldn't compete with in a free market. 
Through the control of the nation's media, they fabricated the "reefer 
madness" campaign of anti-drug hysteria, and under its influence the 

26 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

fraudulent "Marihuana Tax Act" was pushed through Congress with a 
minimum of debate. 

Before hemp prohibition began in 1938, marijuana and hashish were 
widely used and commonly accepted by the U.S. population with no hint 
of negative effects. Cannabis was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia with 
over 100 different medical uses, and it was as popular an over-the- 
counter medicinal ingredient as aspirin and Tylenol are today. "Turkish 
smoking parlors" were open for business in all major U.S. cities, and 
hashish smoking concessions were a popular attraction at the World's 
Fairs. Hashish candy was sold openly in corner drug stores and through 
the Sears catalog. Yet, a few years after hemp prohibition began, all 
traces of cannabis and the hemp industry had vanished from the Ameri- 
can media, school curricula, and history books, in one of the most 
thorough Orwellian cover-ups in modem history. 

Psychedelics: Mind-Manifesting Magical Medicines 

There is another reason that the State tries fanatically and fruitlessly to 
keep the people from using marijuana: it gets you high. 

Like the other psychedelics, marijuana can expand human con- 
sciousness. This is threatening to the State, which bases its power on the 
ignorance and superstition of the masses. 

Drugs like alcohol and tobacco, or heroin and cocaine, are useful to 
the State: they induce an intoxicated stupor, keep users dumb and 
gullible, and promote attitudes of competition and aggressiveness. They 
set up chain reactions of addictive cravings, ensuring a steady stream of 
customers and profits. 

Psychedelics, on the other hand, tend to awaken the mind from the 
hypnotic somnambulism of Amerikan consumer culture. Psychedelics 
are "anti-brainwashing agents," stimulating users to question the as- 
sumptions of the establishment and to break through the indoctrination 
and conditioning that the State uses to turn us into obedient robot con- 
sumer/worker/soldier/housewife/bureaucrats. Psychedelics can widen 
the horizons of the mind, awakening the creative imagination. 

Besides cannabis, the major psychedelics are: 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 27 

* LSD (made from ergot, a purple fungus that grows on rye, or from 

the seeds of certain varieties of morning glory and Hawaiian 
Rosewood flowers); 

* mescaline (from peyote and other cactuses native to Mexico and 

the American southwest); and 

* psilocybin (from "magic mushrooms"). 

Each of these has its own unique subtleties of effect, but they all 
share the same basic characteristics. They expand the scope and com- 
plexity of perception, thought, comprehension, and imagination. They 
amplify the brain's access to input through all sensory channels. Previ- 
ously "subconscious" and "unconscious" mental contents are brought 
into the spotlight of conscious awareness. 

These effects were noted by early researchers. Aleister Crowley, a 
British poet and mystical philosopher who experimented with cannabis 
and mescaline, described their effects as a "loosening of the girders of 
the soul" in his 1909 essay, The Psychology of Hashish. Aldous Huxley 
described the effects of mescaline as an opening of "the doors of percep- 
tion" and wrote that it provided access to "the antipodes of the mind." 

Psychedelics are not "hallucinogens": this derogatory term is used in 
State-sponsored anti-drug propaganda, just as all illegal drugs are often 
included under the blanket term "narcotics" — including cocaine, which 
is a powerful stimulant, the opposite of a narcotic. The alterations of 
perception caused by psychedelics are not hallucinations in the strict 
sense of the term. Rather, they are amplifications and magnifications of 
perceptions and mental functions, analogous to the altered perceptions 
caused by looking through the lenses of a telescope or a microscope. 
There are some drugs which are true "hallucinogens" — i.e., which 
induce a confusion of the senses in which false perceptions are mistaken 
for real — including the belladonna / jimson weed / henbane family of 
herbs, sources of the drugs atropine and scopolamine. These drugs are in 
a distinct class from the psychedelics, as unbiased scientific studies of 
the subject make clear. 

The term "psychedelic" was coined by Dr. Humphrey Osmond in 
the 1950s. It is derived from the Greek words psyche, soul or mind, and 
delos, to manifest or make clear; thus, the meaning of the term is "mind 

28 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

manifesting" or "soul-clarifying." Since the 1960s, the word has entered 
into popular usage to describe such varied subjects as clothing styles and 
techniques of musical or artistic expression, but in its original sense it 
remains the most accurate scientific term for the unique class of con- 
sciousness-expanding drugs. 

Simply stated, psychedelics affect consciousness by triggering 
increased amounts of neurotransmitters to flood the synapses of the 
brain, thus allowing the brain to process a larger percentage of the 
information streaming in through the nervous system. The effect is like 
switching on a bright light in a dimly lit room, or like waking up from a 
lifelong semi-sleep, to a higher degree of wakefulness than you've ever 

LSD and the other major psychedelics were made illegal in 1966, at 
a time when they were having a major effect, both in the world of 
scientific, medical and philosophical research, and in the world of 
popular culture, where they were triggering a worldwide renaissance in 
music, art, literature and fashion that was affecting human society in 
innumerable ways. 

Research with LSD showed that it had tremendous value as an aid to 
psychotherapy and in the treatment of alcoholism. LSD therapy was 
found to provide more permanent recovery from alcohol addiction than 
any other method, before or since. A landmark study in the early 1960s 
showed that a few sessions with psilocybin could cause a major drop in 
recidivism among prison inmates convicted for violent crimes. LSD was 
found to ease the fear of death in terminal cancer patients. Yet, despite 
these and many other positive discoveries, all research with psychedelics 
was curtailed when prohibition was enacted. 

Passage of laws against psychedelics was supported by a prolifera- 
tion of distorted and fabricated propaganda in the mass media, in a 
replay of the successful anti-marijuana campaign of the 1930s. Popular 
myths remain today among the majority of the public that is unaware of 
the scientific literature on the subject; that LSD causes chromosome 
damage, for instance — news stories correcting this fallacy were buried 
on the back pages of the daily papers and had little effect on the impres- 
sions made by the banner headlines that had originally proclaimed the 
scare stories. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 29 

Freedom of Religion 

Millions of us who sampled the psychedelics in the 1960s experienced 
profound, life-changing spiritual and philosophical revelations that were 
of incomparable personal value. These experiences paralleled discover- 
ies made with the aid of sacramental vegetable products by indigenous 
peoples from all parts of the world since ancient times — discoveries that 
are enshrined in the sacred scriptures and spiritual traditions of many of 
the world's religions. 

The "legal" persecution of those of us who freely choose to follow 
this ancient and honorable spiritual path — the yoga of light-containing 
herbs — is ethically indistinguishable from the persecution of witches and 
heretics, or the persecution of early Christians by the Roman state. 

Whether or not the use of sacramental vegetable products meets with 
the approval of the civil authorities — or anyone else — it is a personal 
matter that clearly deserves the protection of the First Amendment to the 
U.S. Constitution, which promises that the "free exercise of religion" 
will not be abridged. 

In my own experience, the vistas opened up by LSD and the other 
psychedelics were among the most interesting and important events of 
my life. Under the spell of these elixirs of light, I was filled with a 
sudden, overwhelming reawakening of the quality of consciousness that 
I remembered experiencing as a young child — yet with the addition of a 
fully functioning rational intellect. The fundamental questions of phi- 
losophy suddenly emerged from the dusty academic realm and assumed 
a living immediacy: Who am I? What is this reality, this thing we call 
"life"? How did this universe come to be? And what does this mean, to 

And following on the heels of these questions came answers, flood- 
ing forth from within me and from everywhere I looked in the world 
around me. A transcendental understanding flowered in ecstasy; the 
scales fell from my eyes and the mysteries of Nature were revealed like 
an unsealed book in the clear light of the awakened Gnosis. The insights 
of Eastern philosophy and Western mysticism, of William Blake and 
Vincent Van Gogh, were unlocked with a spontaneous revelation of their 
relevance to the collective human condition. I felt renewed, reborn in the 
purging brilliance of the revelation. 

30 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

The power that gave birth to this revelation lies latent within us all, 
locked within the cells of our bodies, in the molecules of the matter that 
makes up the matrix of reality, awaiting the chemical keys that will 
release it into conscious awareness. 

This is not to say that the use of psychedelics is the only way to 
release this transcendental understanding. But it certainly is one way — a 
way that works. 

Repeal Prohibition Now 

Prohibition laws are an encroachment by government into the most 
sacred areas of individual liberty and personal privacy. 

Prohibition enforcement relies on the basest malignancies of human 
nature, rewarding the treachery and deceit of paid informants and the lies 
and deceptions of undercover agents, encouraging children to spy on 
their parents and citizens on their neighbors, turning public life into a 
miasma of hypocrisy and paranoia. 

Already, prohibition is bringing American society closer to a total 
police state, with mandatory urine testing at our places of employment, 
police roadblocks on our highways, electronic surveillance of our public 
and private lives, and the maintenance of detailed secret police files on 
every citizen. 

Thomas Jefferson ("life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness") and 
Patrick Henry ("give me liberty or give me death") must be squirming 
and writhing in their graves as they look back on their progeny of two 

I appeal to all who read these words: The use and exchange of 
visionary vegetable products is not a crime! 

Demand an immediate end to all prohibition laws! 

Demand that all prisoners of prohibition be freed under a general 
amnesty, and that reparations be paid for their forfeited properly, lost 
livelihood, and disrupted lives! 

Organize and act to stop this mad Juggernaut of misguided govern- 
ment called prohibition — before it succeeds in crushing out the flame of 
Liberty from the face of the Earth! 

So must it be! 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 31 

Psychedelics, Technology, 

by Bernard S. Aaronson and Humphrey Osmond 
Copyright 1970 

Any culture may be regarded as a ramification of a particular tech- 
nology applied to the particular set of local conditions within which that 
culture is situated. The term "technology," as used here, refers to the 
entire set of devices, whether mechanical, chemical, or linguistic, by 
which adaptations of individuals to their environments are enhanced. 
Plows, clubs, radios, airplanes, fertilizers, drugs, breakfast cereals, 
grammars, and concepts are each implements and instances of technol- 
ogy, which influence and are influenced by one another. Some imple- 
ments operate by directly altering the environment in response to the 
demands of the individual, as when we turn on an air conditioner on a 
hot day. Others operate by altering the individual to meet the demands of 
the environment, as when we "make the last one for the road coffee." 
Still others may attempt to integrate the two, as when we read a book to 
gain knowledge that will help us in particular situations. 

All systems of technology have certain common characteristics in 
terms of how they affect those who use them. They set up ways of 
looking at the world in terms of which new experiences can be encoded. 
One of the best illustrations of this is given in an old Jewish folk song in 
which the singing of a new cantor on the Sabbath is heard by a tailor in 
terms of how one sews a suit of clothes, by a cobbler in terms of making 

32 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

shoes, and by a carpenter in terms of cutting wood. Systems of technol- 
ogy focus attention on certain kinds of relationships and particular ways 
of conceptualizing those relationships. It is probably no accident that the 
great Chinese book on time, the / Ching, with its emphasis on seasons 
and changes and on ways of adapting to these and on the right time for 
initiating and carrying through action should have arisen as a vegetable 
oracle, the product of a farming people. 

Conceptualizations, once arrived at, interact to produce new 
conceptualizations, new technology, from which, once more, new 
concepts and new needs may emerge. Television, for instance, derives as 
a concept from motion pictures and radio and, even though it was 
introduced only a comparatively short time ago, has rapidly become a 
central part of homes at all levels of society in our culture. Watching 
television has tended to produce a more uniform culture through greater 
exposure to common stimuli, has reduced the amount of time available 
for free interaction by members of any particular household, and has 
resulted in the creation of such implements as "TV trays" and "TV 
dinners" to accommodate the need for more time around the television 
set. Automobiles have made possible the movement to the suburbs, the 
virtual end of public transportation in many parts of our country, and a 
resultant increased dependency on private means of transportation. In its 
turn, this has produced a more mobile population, a proliferation of 
roads, a tendency to think of distance in terms of units of time, the 
destruction of the countryside, and an increased need to deal with air 

Any technological innovation in any area expands to fill all the 
analogous gaps to which it can be applied. The technology of clubs 
developed into the technology of axes and hoes, and, in modern 
America, into the technology of baseball. Any technological system has 
a degree of play that makes possible the development of new technolo- 
gies, which may not be immediately useful, but can become functional 
or can be combined to be functional when the need arises. The technique 
for producing light shows has long been available but remained essen- 
tially unused until the advent of psychedelic drugs produced its impact 
on a generation accustomed to TV diffraction patterns. 

The technology of drugs is one of the oldest technologies and 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 33 

probably began when our ancestors browsed their way through the 
forests and found that, among the foods they sampled, some produced 
interesting changes in how they felt, how they perceived, and how they 
could accommodate themselves to the world. Substances that alter 
consciousness are found in use among probably all the peoples of the 
world (Taylor, 1963). In particular, substances containing alcohol and 
caffeine seem to be used nearly everywhere, and hemp and its deriva- 
tives also seem widely used. 

Substances whose main effect is to stop hunger are classed as 
foods. Even though it is now customary to present an analysis of the 
chemical composition of many of the foods we eat on the sides of the 
containers in which they are packaged, their action tends to be studied in 
laboratories of nutrition rather than in those of pharmacology. The kinds 
of detailed study of effects on particular structures and organ systems 
that have historically characterized pharmacological study are rarely 
undertaken with foods. 

Substances that increase conviviality or stimulate the individual 
are often treated as foods if they can be eaten, or as more like drugs 
(without usually naming them such) if they must be smoked. Alcohol, 
coffee, tea, and chocolate represent the edible class of these substances, 
as does cannabis and its derivatives in many Moslem and Eastern 
countries. Cannabis and tobacco probably represent the principal com- 
mon substances smoked. The continuing agitation against the use of 
alcohol and cannabis by various groups in our culture suggests the 
anomalous position of these kinds of substances on the food-drug 
continuum. The fear and anxiety over the moral and physical degrada- 
tion that might result from enslavement to coffee, tea, and chocolate 
when these were introduced into Europe are another case in point. It 
should also be noted that many tobacco smokers often have trouble 
conceptualizing tobacco as a drug, for the term "drug" has developed 
very specialized meanings. 

Among the foods sampled by our ancestors, some sustained life, 
others destroyed it. Still others seemed to remove illness. Sometimes 
those foods that destroyed life could also sustain it and remove illness if 
administered in proper ways and in proper amounts. It is hard to say 
when the division of edibles into foods and poisons and into foods and 
drugs arose, for the divisions already existed at the beginning of re- 

34 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

corded history. Legends of the witch woman and the wizard and their 
herbs, or of the apple whose scent drives away disease are very old. A 
technology of drug use is found in all cultures along with a technology 
of poisons, and the control of that technology is vested in individuals 
with priestly or semi-priestly functions, or in others with claims to 
special relationships with the supernatural. As the amount of knowledge 
around the use of the healing arts grew, the priesthood, which dealt in 
healing, gradually gave way to a more secularized group, with special- 
ized training, called physicians. Another group claimed jurisdiction over 
the preparation of these substances and were called apothecaries or, more 
recently, pharmacists. These experts knew which drugs to prescribe and 
when. It was also apparent that these substances could sometimes be 
dangerous when improperly compounded or improperly used, so it was 
important to listen when they told you how to use the possibly dangerous 
substances in which they dealt. In addition, since they dealt in alleviating 
suffering, a "good guy" image was easy to come by. As a result, a drug 
in this context became something that was used on the advice of a 
physician, and that it was foolhardy to use otherwise. 

While a tradition of using minor remedies for things like colds or 
warts existed, reasonable people left the control of drugs in the hands of 
the experts. Even patent medicines derived their fundamental cultural 
status from the implied approval of these groups, or had to go back to 
their precursors, the medicine men and shamans of primitive days. To 
this day, television advertisements for patent medicines that will cure 
headaches, sinus congestion, or "tired blood" are delivered by friendly, 
fatherly looking men in white coats. On the other hand, the development 
of modern research technology made possible an expansion of the 
number of substances recognized as specifics against particular ailments 
and increased the range of illnesses and conditions for which drugs could 
be used. In particular, the realization that food-deficiency diseases exist, 
and the development of vitamin pills to be used as a food supplement, 
created a dynamic tension between the restricted use of drugs and the 
use of pills as food. Subsequently, the modem development of mood- 
changing drugs such as tranquilizers, and their promiscuous prescription 
by physicians to such a point that some minor tranquilizers can now be 
purchased without a prescription, completed the breach. We became a 
pill-using culture, although the earlier caution about the use of drugs 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 35 

remained as a nagging sense of guilt. 

Alongside the medically controlled and related concept of drugs, a 
second conception exists of drugs as substances that produce depressing 
but exotic sleep states to which the user becomes easily addicted, to the 
exclusion of the claims and pleasures of ordinary life. In Homer's 
Odyssey, Ulysses and his crew visit the Land of the Lotus Eaters, whose 
inhabitants are addicted to a fruit that, when tasted, puts the user into a 
sleep in whose dreams all thoughts of home and country are forgotten. In 
our country, in our time, when somebody says he feels "drugged," he is 
generally referring to a state of depressed apathy. In contrast to this, we 
may often refer to a situation in which we have been gratified as one in 
which we have been "fed." A product that does not sell is referred to in 
business as "a drug on the market," but a new concept or a new percep- 
tion may be "food for thought." It is commonplace to hear how opium, 
the prototype for this conception, destroyed the initiative and capacity 
for constructive activity of the people in many Eastern countries and 
kept them from the progress and well-being of the Protestant ethic. It is a 
fact, moreover, that China did fight a losing war to keep British enter- 
prise from bringing in opium, because the rulers of China felt that the 
effects of opium addiction would enervate their population. 

For us, drugs are often seen as substances used in strange and 
alien cultures whose customs are the material from which travelogues 
are made and to which the intrepid traveler may venture only at the risk 
of being debauched. The early writings on opium by Thomas De Quincy, 
and the accounts of hashish experiences by Theophile Gautier and 
Fitzhugh Ludlow stress the exotic nature of the experience. Even 
Coleridge's famous poem Kubla Khan, written from an opium dream, in 
which the legendary ruler builds a pleasure dome in Xanadu over a 
hidden sacred river where women mourn for demon lovers and Abyssin- 
ian maids play dulcimers, bears out this aura of the strange. Drugs are 
substances that not only render us unable or unwilling to function in 
ordinary life, but make available exotic and forbidden landscapes. In 
these landscapes, the images of nightmare from which we have fled 
since childhood, move and take shape. 

This view of the dangerous nature of drugs is further buttressed by 
the modern concept of "the drug addict" — an individual so enslaved by 
his need to escape "reality," a euphemism for the disappointinents 

36 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

attendant on the need to survive, that he seeks these dangerous sub- 
stances to the exclusion of the more conventional activities that keep 
society functioning. This immediately arouses the fear that if one person 
finds "illegitimate" states so attractive, others will follow because of 
their inherent superior pleasure-giving quality. The strictures by Louria 
(1966) on the hedonism of drug use emphasize this fear. Similar attitudes 
are expressed in the fear and condemnation of homosexuals by many 
perfectly adequate and well-adjusted heterosexuals, and in the horror felt 
by some parents when they find their children masturbating. 

The drug addict is seen as becoming less controlled and more apt 
to express impulses that our society frowns upon, as his drug use contin- 
ues. He is finally so taken over by his need, and so debauched, and so 
unable to make his own way, that he is forced to turn to crime to prolong 
a life that is now a threat to the survival of others. These negative images 
play an important role with respect to any substance labeled "drug" and 
not medically prescribed or available in a pharmacy. It is interesting to 
note that cough medicines containing codeine, an addicting drug, are 
available without prescription in many of our states, and that, at least 
until recently, paregoric, which contains a small quantity of opium, was 
freely available without prescription for use with infants. That these 
concepts represent an important aspect of the affective reaction to drug 
use is shown by the fact that campaigns against drug abuse in general, 
and the use of psychedelics in particular, have centered around appeals to 
these images. 

Psychedelics are the newest addition to drug technology in our 
culture. While the use of many of these substances in their plant form is 
very old, their use in our culture is very recent, apart from minor experi- 
mentation by early scientists concerned with consciousness, such as 
William James, Weir Mitchell, and Havelock Ellis (DeRopp, 1957). 
Written descriptions of the use of hemp date from about 1250 B.C. 
Datura preparations are used in magic and witchcraft in many areas of 
the world. Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric mushroom, was not only 
probably used by the ancient Vikings when they went into battle, but, 
according to recent evidence, may have been the legendary soma of the 
founders of Hinduism (Schultes, 1969; Wasson, 1969). It is not possible 
to say how far back the use of peyote, ololiuqui, or of Psilocybe 
mexicana goes, for the records were destroyed by the Roman Catholic 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 37 

missionaries to the conquered people of Mexico in their zeal for the 
welfare of the souls of their charges. 

The central property of any of the substances labeled psychedelic 
is the enhancement of experience. In the anti-drug writings in the popu- 
lar and semi-popular press, psychedelics have even been condemned as 
offering "instant experience." They seem to step up the capacity of the 
organism to respond to fine gradations of stimulus input, to enhance 
response to stimulation at the upper and lower levels of perceptual 
responding, and to break down the barriers imposed by the different 
sensory avenues through which stimulation is received, in order to 
produce new perceptions, a greater frequency of illusions, and, more 
rarely, hallucinations. Before Osmond (1957b) coined the word "psyche- 
delic," they were more commonly referred to as psychotomimetics or 
hallucinogens to stress their capacity to mimic psychoses or induce 
hallucinations. In contrast, depressants, such as alcohol and the barbitu- 
rates, and narcotics, such as opium and morphine, reduce attention to 
stimulus input, although hypnagogic and dreamlike states are possible 
with all of these. Stimulants, such as the amphetamines and caffeine, 
may enhance endurance, improve mood, and increase alertness and work 
capacity, but they do not promote attention to the fine nuances of sensory 
experience as do the psychedelics. 

The ability of the psychedelics to produce enhanced capacity for 
experiencing, and for interrelating the data of experience, is central in 
understanding both their significance and their popularity. Very few 
books that deal with psychedelics fail to include individual protocols of 
such experiences. Metzner (1968), Ebin (1961), and Watts (1962) have 
published entire books containing nothing but protocols of psychedelic 
experience. Huxley's great book The Doors of Perception (1954), which 
probably marks the beginning of the modern psychedelic movement,is 
also such a protocol from his famous initial encounter with the Belle of 
Portugal rose to his final return to "that reassuring but profoundly 
unsatisfactory state known as 'being in one's right mind.'" Timothy 
Leary's recent autobiographical account of psychedelia, High Priest 
(1968), is also presented in terms of psychedelic "trips." In discussing 
the use of psychedelics in therapy for various emotional disorders, 
Hoffer and Osmond (1967) stress that LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline 
may all be equally effective. "It is the experience, not the compound 

38 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

which induces it, which is responsible." 

The stress on enhanced experiencing as the fundamental charac- 
teristic of these substances leads, in the literature, to a stress on the 
importance of the setting in which the drug is taken. In order for the 
enhanced capacity for experience created by these substances to show 
itself, an adequate range of stimuli must first be available to be experi- 
enced. Administration of psychedelics under conditions of sensory 
deprivation seems to abolish most of the usual effects attributed to them 
(Pollard, Uhr, and Stern, 1965). Hoffer and Osmond (1967) stress the 
importance of providing adequate environmental support to produce the 
kinds of experience required to produce change in personality. Alpert 
and Cohen (1966) also stress the need for adequate settings to provide 
psychedelic experiences. 

On the other hand, as the stimulus situations presented to the drug 
taker increase in complexity, the variability of possible responses to 
those stimuli increases, especially when there is perceptual heightening. 
For this reason, along with the emphasis on setting, a companion empha- 
sis on set — the attitudes, motivations, preconceptions, and intentions that 
individuals bring to their experiences — has arisen. Mogar (1965, 1965) 
has suggested that contradictory results in different experiments on the 
effects of psychedelics on different functions can be accounted for by 
considering the differences in set and setting. Leary, Litwin, and Metzner 
(1963) have suggested that the total effect of an exposure to psilocybin 
could be accounted for entirely in terms of set and setting. Krippner 
(1965) has pointed out that the psychotomimetic reactions of the early 
studies with LSD occurred within the context of a laboratory in which 
the individual taking the drug was surrounded by white-coated physi- 
cians who were looking for evidence that an analogous situation to 
schizophrenia was being produced. Hyde (1960) showed that when 
psychedelics were administered to a variety of normal subject groups 
under conditions in which they were confronted with impersonal, hostile, 
and investigative attitudes on the part of others, the subjects responded 
with devaluative distortions and hostility. Flexibility, familiarity, and the 
presence of others with a common culture ameliorated the psychotomi- 
metic aspects of the reaction, while rigidity, unfamiliarity, non-accep- 
tance, and absence of others with a common culture exacerbated them. 

While few would seek enhanced experience if that experience 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 39 

were negative, the ability to enhance the capacity for experience is an 
important reason for the increased popularity of psychedelics. People 
tend to do what they are good at. Well-coordinated, well-muscled 
individuals are apt to be involved in athletics; those with good number 
ability are apt to enjoy working with numbers. One of the best predictive 
devices for vocational success is the Strong Vocational Interest Inven- 
tory, which provides scores based on the similarity of an individual's 
interest patterns to those of individuals who are successful in their 
chosen fields. Virtually everyone has the capacity to react, judge, and 
seek out experience. People will often go on long and arduous journeys 
just to see things, or will buy recording equipment, radios, or television 
just to provide themselves with stimulation. They will register for 
difficult courses of instruction with no demonstrable practical conse- 
quences for themselves, in order to enhance their experience. This is not 
unique to man, for animals show a similar pattern of experience seeking 
(Welker, 1961). In human societies, the theater, the church, sports 
spectaculars, the pomp and ceremony of parades, the rides, color, and 
glitter of carnivals, all are institutions created to meet the need for 
enhanced experience. We are built to process stimuli, and an important 
part of living is seeking out stimuli to be processed. The popularity of 
psychedelics is not only a function of this general characteristic of 
stimulus seeking, but it also suggests the relative infrequency of bad 
experiences resulting from their use, unless we wish to posit masochism 
as an equally fundamental characteristic of biological adjustment. 

Because psychedelics focus attention on individual experience, 
some important social consequences arise from their use. Individual 
experience is on the one hand unique to the experienced and on the other 
characterized by great transpersonal commonality as one goes deeper 
into the self (Aaronson, 1968). In spite of the scientific validity of the 
behaviorist critique that private experience is not available for scientific 
observation, for each of us, as individuals, our own experiences have a 
veridicality shared by few other things in this world. We not only seek 
experience, we respond in terms of our experiences, and accord a special 
hearing to those who can "speak from experience." Immediate experi- 
ence is of greater consequence to the individual experiencing it than any 
promise of future good or ill made by a personal or impersonal authority 
figure. Any parent who has had to take a child to face a shot adminis- 

40 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

tered to him by his kindly pediatrician can testify to this. Any smoker 
who lights up contentedly as he reads the warning on his cigarette pack 
also shows its validity. 

When individual experience is emphasized, the generalized verbal 
formulas for societal control based on hoary and long-unquestioned 
precepts become open to question as they are filtered through the indi- 
vidual consciousness. Various institutions maintain their authority by 
means of symbols and concepts that evoke traditional emotional reac- 
tions, and the more-rational verbal responses function as unconscious 
rationalizations of these reactions. That is, many logical arguments turn 
out to be simply elaborations of illogical emotional biases. These tradi- 
tional emotional biases are inculcated from the earliest age at home, in 
the schools, and in the propaganda organizations for children, such as the 
Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the YMCA, and other groups. Similar 
institutions exist in Communist and Fascist societies, except that there 
the conditioning tends to be more frenetic and compulsive than in our 
own. The attention to the ways in which these symbols can affect us 
makes plain the inherent illogic of conventional wisdom. Once the 
question of "Why, indeed, should I respond in this way?" has been 
posed, many of the structures of society will tumble if answers cannot be 
found rooted in the existential being of the questioner. 

Many of the consequences of this kind of questioning can be seen 
not only among the hippies and in Leary's concept of society as a 
collection of television stage props (1968), but in the kinds of questions 
posed by those of our young people who have not obviously taken on the 
extreme styles of life represented either by the hippies or by Leary The 
use of marijuana is sufficiently widespread among our young adult 
groups that attitudes developing from attention to one's own conscious- 
ness have pervaded their style of approach to the world. Before the 
question of "What career shall I choose?" can be answered, the question 
of "Why should I choose a career?" must be settled. Before one can 
agree to fight for flag and country, the existential meaning of flag, 
country, death, killing, freedom, and a host of other concepts must be 
considered. The source of power is not seen as being conferred from on 
high, but as arising from the behavior toward the power wielder of those 
over whom power is exercised. This attitude has tremendous implica- 
tions with regard to the kinds of behavior that will be displayed toward 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 41 

the traditional holders of power and the traditional methods of displaying 

The development of similar emphases on personal revelation and 
personal consciousness at various points in the history of Christendom 
led to the formation of many of our existing Protestant denominations 
and the replacement of the old Catholic concept of an ordained priest- 
hood with a new concept of the priesthood of all believers. The so-called 
"generation gap" is a mirage that results not from the traditional need of 
the young to make their way in a world of already established people nor 
from any traditional traits of impatience or idealism, although all these 
may be factors, but from differing amounts of attention to the importance 
of individual experience. Because of the greater willingness of young 
people to try new things, the consciousness-changing chemicals had 
their greatest effect along peer-group lines. 

Because of the fact that each individual consciousness is located in 
a body, increased awareness of the body and of our functions as biologi- 
cal organisms seems to occur in the psychedelic -user population. This is 
not the kind of stress on the body traditionally associated with weight 
lifting or the overdevelopment of body parts that give a good male or 
female image, but desire for a well-functioning body that is pleasant to 
experience. This has led to an interest in hatha yoga and in tai chi, the 
Indian and Chinese systems of exercise whose aim is not muscular 
development, but peace, coordination, and good bodily functioning. All 
bodily functions and bodily needs are more apt to be accepted and, even 
more important, respected. The ancient verbal taboos limiting sexual 
behavior have been weakened by the non-verbal nature of psychedelic 
experience. Excretory functions are accepted without embarrassment. 
Preferences develop for simple foods with more concern about how 
these may affect the body, although there is some tendency for this 
concern to turn to cultishness. Clothes are no longer used to hide the 
body, but to emphasize the body as the source of experience. The greater 
openness with regard to the physical self has been accompanied by 
relaxation of the taboo against touching other people and being touched 
by them, an event of overriding social consequence in changing the 
character, intensity, scope, and available possibilities in any interpersonal 

Beyond the perception of the body itself, the enhanced sensory 

42 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

experience has called attention to the pleasures and insights that can be 
obtained directly from sensory experience. Light shows and modern 
rock music reflect some of the visual and auditory experiences produced 
by psychedelics. Aldous Huxley (1956) has pointed out the luminous 
intensity of colors found in "the antipodes of the mind," and this is 
mimicked by Day-Glo paints and the eerie glow of colors under black 
light. The greater sensitivity to color reflections, color shadows, and 
afterimages, especially as they appear reflected on glossy surfaces like 
skin, has led to the modern fashion of body painting. Along with the 
perception of oneself as a biological organism, with its consequent 
emphasis on the simple and natural, there has been an increased aware- 
ness of the complexity and beauty of natural phenomena. This has been 
further elaborated by the fact that, with many of the psychedelics, the 
retinal structure of the eye itself enters into the perception, as Kluver 
(1966) has pointed out. This has complicated the drive for simplicity 
with a preference for the baroque. The resulting dynamic tension appears 
in all forms of psychedelic decoration, music, literature, and art. Masters 
and Houston (1968) have shown this well in their recently published 
book on psychedelic art, which runs the gamut from simple meditative 
expressions to welters of clashing stimulation designed to make the 
viewer leave his senses through overstimulation of his senses. 

Going deeply into one's own experience leads to insights beyond 
those experienced when the focus of attention is on what is experienced 
rather than the mode of experience itself. The appearance of reality is no 
longer taken at face value, but is seen as an interaction with the percep- 
tual apparatus of the perceiver. This means that the usual existential 
primacy given the world around us, probably because we are built to 
process information coming to us from the outside, gives way to an 
equality of perceives and perceived, so that the perception itself becomes 
the primary datum in a conscious sense, as it has always been without 
our realization. This is, indeed, one of the goals of many meditative 
systems, and meditation as such has become a popular activity among 
the psychedelic subgroup and those influenced by them. Indeed, move- 
ment within the self away from its more-surface manifestations inevita- 
bly invokes religious imagery (Masters and Houston, 1966; Aaronson, 
1968), although images invoking religious feelings may be possible at all 
levels of consciousness. The sense that depth is expanded, common in 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics -43 

psychedelic experiences, is like the environmental conditions most 
commonly associated with mystical experience, and mystical experi- 
ences can be produced by experimentally providing experiences of 
enhanced depth (Aaronson, 1967). 

Movement within reaches the level of archetype and myth and 
may transcend these to a point of ultimate mystical union. The arche- 
types may be an elaboration of current material featured in the concerns 
of the popular press, as Barron (1967) has pointed out. They may derive 
from early impressions and concerns fed by other technologies in our 
culture. Tom Wolfe (1968), for instance, has pointed out the prevalence 
of imagery from the comic books dear to children in the late thirties and 
early forties in the group centering around Ken Kesey They may derive 
from fundamental perceptions of our own structures and modes of 
functioning. Barron (1967) has noted, "an experience of Christ, i.e. of 
Christ free from the institutional embodiment known as Christianity, is 
common to many psychedelic "trips." Christ on the cross may then be 
understood simply as "consciousness impaled on the human form, mind 
hung to die on body to expiate our voluntary participation in the world's 
heavy materialism." This manner of thinking and perceiving, the concen- 
tration on archetype, the sense of an indwelling, immanent God, and the 
interest in meditation have correspondingly created an interest in those 
forms of religion that stress these notions: Hinduism, and Tibetan and 
Zen Buddhism. Psychedelic experience is fundamentally religious, as 
any experience of life taken as an experience of life must be. Braden 
(1967) has pointed out that the fundamental thrust of psychedelic experi- 
ence is religious and its fundamental challenge is to the forms of orga- 
nized religion. It is one of the forces contributing to the ferment in 
contemporary Christianity that is presently leading one of the oldest and 
most tradition-bound of Christian churches to reevaluate its forms, its 
structure, and many of the engrafted beliefs of its development. 

The development of any new major innovation in technology 
affects profoundly the life and structure of the society in which it occurs. 
The development of psychedelics is such a major innovation, which 
promises revolutionary changes and is, in fact, already producing them. 
Psychedelics may have a potential impact on society equivalent to that of 
the machine, which in setting off the Industrial Revolution, created much 
of what we now consider our "natural" and "traditional" styles of life 

44 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

and forms of organizing society. At the time of the beginning of the 
Industrial Revolution, those dispossessed by the new forms blamed the 
machines and tried to wreck them in the Luddite rebellion. Our modern 
Luddites are not the dispossessed, but those who exist at the very center 
of the power structure. The alteration of values, the questioning of rules 
by those who have had psychedelic experiences, create much consterna- 
tion, often by their very own children, among individuals who have 
made their way by those rules and under the value system of the existing 
society. In addition, the negative implications of the concept "drug," 
noted earlier in this discussion, are not without their effects. 

Confronted by danger, each carries out his social function. The 
mass media simultaneously point at the wonders of psychedelic experi- 
ence and view them with alarm. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and soci- 
ologists, whose business it is to find abnormality in deviance, find 
abnormality in deviance. Government agencies introduce regulations, 
lawmakers make laws, and policemen police. The upshot of all this 
activity is that it is now almost impossible to carry out legitimate re- 
search with psychedelics. A large user population has developed that 
uses bootleg drugs, sometimes containing dangerous impurities, and 
almost certainly producing revenue for organized crime. Drugs are now 
used by individuals who, under a system of controlled access to them, 
would probably not have been exposed to them and run the risk of 
injuring themselves. It is difficult to set up safeguards for the proper use 
of the major psychedelics when this use is illegal. One segment of our 
population exists under conditions reminiscent of prohibition, while the 
other looks on with alarm. A crisis in confidence has been created that 
cuts across generational lines. A great many people who normally would 
be law-abiding are placed in the position of outlaws, with marked 
implications for their further relationships to society and its institutions. 

It is beyond the scope of this paper to do any more than outline 
briefly some of the implications of psychedelic technology and some of 
its associated problems. The rest of this book is devoted to filling in the 
picture in more detail. At the present time, the repressive attitudes toward 
this new technology are so strong that its effects can only show them- 
selves in strange and aborted forms. Perhaps the situation will be eased 
to permit more open and controlled development of what is now clan- 
destine and uncontrolled. Hopefully. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 45 

Programming and 

in the Human 


by John Lilly 
copyright 1967, 1968 revised 1974 

All human beings, all persons who reach adulthood in the world 
today are programmed biocomputers. No one can escape one's own 
nature as a programmable entity. Literally, each of us may be his pro- 
grams, nothing more, nothing less. 

Despite the great varieties of programs available, most of us have a 
limited set of programs. Some of these are built in. The structure of our 
nervous system reflects its origins in simpler forms of organisms, from 
sessile protozoans, sponges, and corals through sea worms, reptiles and 
protomammals to primates to early anthropoids to humanoids to man. In 
the simpler basic forms the programs were mostly built in: from genetic 
codes to fully formed organisms adultly reproducing, the patterns of 
function of action-reaction were determined by necessities of survival, of 
adaptation to slow environmental changes, of passing on the codes to 

As the size and complexity of the nervous system and its bodily 
carrier increased, there appeared new levels of programmability, not tied 
to immediate survival and eventual reproduction. The built-in programs 
survived as a basic underlying context for the new levels, excitable and 

46 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

inhibitable by the overlying control systems. Eventually the cerebral 
cortex appeared as an expanding new high-level computer controlling 
the structurally lower levels of the nervous system, the lower built-in 
programs. For the first time learning, with its faster adaptation to a 
rapidly changing environment, began to appear. Further, as this new 
cortex expanded over several millions of years, a critical size of cortex 
was reached. At this new level of structure, a new capability emerged: 
learning to learn. 

When one learns to learn, one is making models, using symbols, 
analogizing, creating metaphors, in short, inventing and using language, 
mathematics, art, politics, business, etc. And at the critical brain (cortex) 
size, languages and its consequences appear. 

To avoid the necessity of repeating "learning to learn," "symbols," 
"metaphors," "models" each time, I symbolize the underlying idea in 
those operations as "metaprogramming." Metaprogramming appears at 
the critical cortical size: the cerebral computer must have a large enough 
number of interconnected circuits of sufficient quality for the operations 
of metaprogramming to exist in this biocomputer. 

Essentially, metaprogramming is an operation in which a central 
control system controls hundreds of thousands of programs that simulta- 
neously operate in parallel. In 1974 this operation is not yet performed 
within man-made computers; metaprogramming is done outside the big 
solid-state computers by the human programmers or, more properly, the 
human metaprogrammers. All choices and assignments of what the 
solid-state computers do, how they operate, what goes into them, are still 
human biocomputer choices. Eventually we may construct a 
metaprogramming computer and turn these choices over to it. 

When I said we may be our programs, nothing more, nothing less, I 
meant that the basic substrate, the substrate under all else, of our 
metaprograms is our system of programs. All we are as humans is what 
is built in and what has been acquired — and what we make of both of 
these. So we are one more result of the program substrate — the self- 

As out of several hundreds of thousands of the substrate programs 
comes an adaptable changing set of thousands of metaprograms, so out 
of the metaprograms as substrate comes something else — the controller, 
the steersman, the programmer in the biocomputer, the selfmeta-pro- 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 47 

grammer. In a well-organized biocomputer, there is at least one such 
critical control metaprogram labeled "I" for acting on other 
metaprograms and labeled "me" when acted upon by other 
metaprograms. I say "at least one" advisedly. Most of us have several 
controllers, selves, self-metaprograms which divide control among them 
in sequences of control either parallel in time or in series. One approach 
to self development is the centralizing of control of one's biocomputer in 
his self-metaprogrammer, making the others into conscious executives 
subordinate to the single administrator the single superconscient self- 
metaprogrammer. With appropriate methods, this centralizing of control, 
the elementary unification operation, is a realizable state for many, if not 
all, biocomputers. 

Beyond and above in the control hierarchy, the position of this single 
administrative self-metaprogrammer and his staff, there may be other 
controls and controllers which for convenience I call "supraself- 
metaprograms." These are many or one, depending on current states of 
consciousness in the single self-metaprogrammer. These may be personi- 
fied "as if entities, treated "as if a network for information transfer, or 
"realized" as if self traveling in the universe to strange lands or dimen- 
sions or spaces. If one performs a further unification operation on these 
supraself metaprograms, one may arrive at a concept labeled "God," the 
"Creator," the "Star Maker," or whatever. At times we are tempted to 
pull together apparently independent supraself sources "as if one. I am 
not sure we are quite ready to perform this supraself-unification opera- 
tion with any expectation that the result will correspond fully to an 
objective reality. 

Certain states of consciousness result from and cause operation of 
this apparent unification phenomenon. We are still general purpose 
computers who can program any conceivable model of the universe 
inside our own structure, reduce the single self-metaprogrammer to a 
micro size, and program him to travel through his own model "as if real 
(level 6, satori +6).' This ability is useful when one steps outside it and 
sees it for what it is — an immensely satisfying realization of the pro- 
grammatic power of one's own biocomputer. Overvaluing or negating 
such experiences is not a necessary operation. Realizing that one has this 
ability is an important addition to one's self-metaprogrammatic list of 

48 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

Once one has control over modeling the universe inside one's self 
and is able to vary the parameters satisfactorily, one's self may reflect 
this ability by changing appropriately to match the new property. 

The quality of one's model of the universe is measured by how well 
it matches the real universe. There is no guarantee that one's current 
model does match the reality, no matter how certain one feels not only 
that there is a match but that it is a match of high quality. Feelings of 
awe, reverence, sacredness and certainty are also adaptable 
metaprograms, attachable to any model, not just the one best fitting the 

Modern science knows this: we know that merely because a culture 
generated a cosmology of a certain kind and worshipped it, there was no 
guarantee of goodness of fit with the real universe. In science we now 
proceed to test, insofar as they are testable, our models of the universe 
rather than to worship them. Feelings such as awe and reverence are 
recognized as biocomputer energy sources rather than as determinants of 
truth, i.e., of the trueness of fit of models versus realities. A pervasive 
feeling of certainly is recognized as a property of a stab of conscious- 
ness, a special space, which may be indicative or suggestive but is no 
longer considered as a final judgment of a true fitting. Even as one can 
travel inside one's models inside one's head, so can one travel outside or 
be the outside of one's model of the universe, still inside one's head 
(level +3, satori +3). 2 In this metaprogram it is as if one joins the cre- 
ators, unites with God, etc. Here one can so attenuate the self that it may 

One can conceive of other supraself-metaprograms farther out than 
these, such as those given in Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker. 3 Here the self 
joins other selves touring the reaches of past and future time and of space 
everywhere. The planet- wide consciousness joins into solar system 
consciousness into galaxy-wide consciousness. Intergalactic sharing of 
consciousness fused into the mind of the universe finally faces its 
creator, the Star Maker. The universe's mind realizes that its creator 
knows its imperfections and will tear it down to start over, to create a 
more nearly perfect universe. 

Uses such as the above of our own biocomputer can teach us pro- 
found truths about our self, our capabilities. The resulting states of being, 
of consciousness, teach us the basic truth about our own equipment as 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 49 


In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is 
true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and 
experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the 
province of mind, there are no limits. 4 

The province of the mind is the region of one s models, of the alone 
self of memory, of the metaprograms. What of the region which includes 
our body, others' bodies? Here there are definite limits. 

In the network of bodies — our own connected with others' for bodily 
survival-procreation-creation — there is another kind of information: 

In the province of connected minds, what the network believes to be 
true either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found 
experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be 
transcended. In the province of the network's mind, there are no limits. 5 

But once again the bodies of the network housing the minds, the 
ground on which they rest, the planet's surface, impose definite limits. 
These limits are to be found experientially and experimentally, agreed 
upon by specially trained minds, and communicated to the network. The 
results are called "consensus science." 

Thus, so far we have information without limits in one's mind and 
with agreed-upon limits (possibly unnecessary) in a network of minds. 
We also have information within definite limits (to be found) in one 
body and in a network of bodies on a planet. 

With this formulation our scientific problem can be stated very 
succinctly as follows: 

Given a single body and a single mind physically isolated and 
confined in a completely physically controlled environment in true 
solitude, with our present sciences can we satisfactorily account for all 
inputs and all outputs to and from this mind-biocomputer — i.e., can we 
truly isolate and confine them? Given the properties of the software- 
mind of this biocomputer outlined above, is it probable that we can find, 
discover, or invent inputs-outputs not yet in our consensus science? Does 
this center of consciousness receive-transmit information by at present 
unknown modes of communication? Does this center of consciousness 
stay in the isolated, confined biocomputer? 

50 ■ Pamtomime Mixtures of Heaven and Earth 

1 Lilly, John C, The Center of the Cyclone. 
1 Ibid. 

3 Stapledon, Olaf, Star Maker, Middlellex, Eng.: Penguin Books Ltd., 1972. 

4 Lilly, John C, The Center of the Cyclone. 

5 Ibid. 

A Third Anthology of Writings about Psychedelics ■ 51